African wild dogs eating, African painted wolves, Botswana, Linyanti

African painted wolves feasting on a carcass. © Sarah Raby

Months after my trip to Botswana, I’m still scrolling through photos and reminiscing about what a magical trip it was. A treat to explore (for the first time with my husband) the wilds of Botswana, while gathering research and perfecting trips for work on the side. Yes, I love my job!

During our time in the Linyanti, I recall a discussion with our Expedition Leader, Thuto Moutloatse, about how only 6,600 adult African wild dogs remain in the wild. Thuto mentioned that he and some of the other guides are trying to start a movement to transition from the term “African wild dog” that’s stuck for so long towards a rename, the “African painted wolf.” These serious conservationists claim that the “painted wolf” moniker has a better connotation, especially for the locals in Botswana who view dogs, in general, as stray pests carrying disease. Additionally, it seems that wolves are more respected in the global wildlife realm, so this would also create a more positive international spin for the canine species.

I have to admit, I’ve grown comfortable with the term “wild dog” but I don’t have the same negative connotation as some of the locals. Yet, isn’t it the people that call Botswana home that we hope will embrace the wildlife and wilderness in which they live? If this is our end goal—assisting in the conservation of this beautiful country long-term—then I’m all for a name change for the amazing and endangered creatures currently known as the African wild dog.

What do you think?

Botswana Safari

Author Sarah Raby on her African safari in Botswana.

This guest post was written by Sarah Raby, Adventure Director & Group Specialist at Natural Habitat Adventures. All photos © Sarah Raby.